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Suggestive GOP ad attacks Ohio Senate Dem hopeful

Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher talks to a crowd of supporters at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Cleveland on Tuesday, May 4, 2010. Fisher ran against Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner in a primary election for the Democratic nomination to fill the Senate seat of retiring Republican George Voinovich. Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher talks to a crowd of supporters at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Cleveland on Tuesday, May 4, 2010. Fisher ran against Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner in a primary election for the Democratic nomination to fill the Senate seat of retiring Republican George Voinovich. (AP Photo/Jason Miller)
By Julie Carr Smyth
AP Statehouse Correspondent / May 7, 2010

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COLUMBUS, Ohio—A sexually suggestive political attack ad featuring a shirtless Democratic U.S. Senate candidate from Ohio in a provocative pose has drawn a barrage of decency and copyright complaints after being posted on a national Republican campaign committee's website.

The ad, created by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, features Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher bare-chested with one hand on his belly and the other one below the screen. The image oscillates as steamy saxophone music plays and a title reads: "He was more concerned about his job than yours."

Fisher won the Democratic nomination Tuesday primary in the campaign for the seat of retiring Republican U.S. Sen. George Voinovich.

Ohio newspapers dubbed the ad racy, tasteless and suggestive of masturbation.

YouTube pulled the spot from its website Thursday at the request of the Buckeye State Blog, an Ohio political blog that claimed rights to other pieces of video used in the ad. The ad drew 40,000 hits before it was pulled from the site, and Fisher campaign spokesman John Collins said the campaign saw an outpouring of online donations in an apparent backlash.

The shirtless image is taken from a few seconds from an on-camera conversation Fisher had with son, Jason, during the filming of a documentary on Ohio's 2006 gubernatorial campaign. Fisher already endured an earlier round of embarrassment over the scene when it was first posted online.

Collins said of the ad, "We invite the hundreds of thousands of Ohioans who have not only lost their shirts but also their jobs, their homes and their hopes in the Bush-Portman recession to join our campaign."

After his primary election victory over Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, Fisher faces Republican opponent Rob Portman, a former congressman and budget director and trade representative under George W. Bush. Portman told reporters in Columbus Friday that he thought the ad was in poor taste.

"I also think it's too bad to distract us from the issues. The issue at hand is jobs ... and we need to be sure we're focused on what Ohioans care about," Portman said.

Amber Marchand, a spokeswoman for the GOP campaign committee, said the group stands by the video.

"The video is and has always been about jobs and about Lee Fisher's record as the state jobs czar and the loss of 400,000 jobs in Ohio when that was his role," Marchand said.

The faceoff between Fisher and Portman is among the closest watched Senate races in the country. Each campaign hopes to lay blame at the other's door for the ailing Ohio economy, where unemployment is at 11 percent.

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On The Net:

National Republican Senatorial Committee: http://www.nrsc.org

Eds: CORRECTS that Buckeye State Blog claimed right to other pieces of video use in the ad, sted video from which Fisher screen grab was taken.